Storm Ready: Prepare ahead of the storms - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Storm Ready: Prepare ahead of the storms

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - In the event of severe weather, you may not have time to gather up the necessary supplies needed for during and after a storm. 

According to Tim Halbach with the National Weather Service in La Crosse, the average lead time for a severe thunderstorm warning is between happening immediately to up to a half hour.  "Tornado warnings can be a little shorter, but we aim to be within 10 to 20 minutes with those. It doesn't leave you with much time to get where you need to be," says Tim.  This time should be spent getting to shelter.

It is important to have your disaster kit ready to go ahead of any storms.  According to Wisconsin Emergency Management, your kit should include:

  • Water (1 gallon per person per day for 3 days)
  • Non-perishable food (for 3 days)
  • Manual can opener (if kit contains canned food)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank-powered NOAA Weather Radio
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • First aid kit and emergency medical reference manual
  • Prescription medications and eyewear
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels, moist towelettes, garbage bags and ties
  • Complete change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and sturdy shoes
  • Cash in small denominations or traveler's checks and change
  • Copies of important family documents, such as insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper (When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach it can be used to disinfect)
  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air) and plastic sheeting/duct tape (to shelter where you are)
  • Local maps
  • Paper and pencil
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Whistle to signal for help

Also important: if you have pets and/or infants, make sure you are well stocked on any additional supplies that they would need (formula, diapers, pet food, toys, necessary identification).  Pack a second disaster kit for your car, in case you are traveling or become stranded away from home.

This may seem like a lot, but supplies for that amount of time are necessary.  "3 days of supplies may seem like overkill, but it may take several days to restore power to your area, or even for first responders to get to your area, so it's better to be prepared than to be left in a bad situation," says Stormtracker 19 Meteorologist Madeline Sky.

Once your disaster kit is ready, make sure you have ways to alert you of severe weather, such as a NOAA weather radio, or an app for your cell phone.  The Stormtracker 19 Weather Team does have a free cell phone app that will alert you of any severe weather in your area.  You can download the app by heading here.

Finally, find and assess your designated storm shelter, whether that is a basement (if you are in a house), an interior room, such as a bathroom (if you are in an apartment), or somewhere outside of a mobile home (mobile homes are not anchored to the ground and can be tossed around in severe weather).  Have ways to protect yourself from falling or flying debris, like a mattress or heavy table, close to that storm shelter.  "Having shoes on is important, because of all of the glass in the area.   Some people go into their storm shelter and grab a bike helmet, or a hockey helmet, to protect their head from falling debris," says Tim Halbach.

Getting all of this ready while the weather is nice means less time in harm's way.

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